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Age: 52

Occupation:USAF Officer

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Pride

Sailing Date: May 16th, 2004

Itinerary: Mexico

A little about myself, this was my 11th cruise and I am the type of person who is not easily impressed, I am critical and prior to any cruise I extensively research the ship, do my homework and even print out a detailed itinerary for members of my family and friends traveling with me. This was a family cruise, I was joined by my sister and her family as well as my own, there were 12 of us, ages ranged from 19-59 years (the following week 23May, I had arranged for another group of 12 of my friends to sail the PRIDE ). Initially, I was a tad apprehensive about booking a Carnival ship, since my experience with the “DESTINY” was not good. However, I loved the itinerary and after doing my research I thought this would be an excellent ship. In my review, I gave each category a star rating with 5 being Outstanding, 4 excellent, 3 satisfactory, 2 marginal, and 1 unsatisfactory, so read on.

Embarkation: ½ a star is all it deserves
Hate to start off with a negative (everything else will get better), but this was the worst embarkation I have ever experienced. I spend the night before boarding aboard the Queen Mary (highly recommend this for any cruise fan) and did the pre-boarding registration @9:00am. All was going was smooth and I was told to get in line starting @11:00 and would be on board by noon. Well to make a long story short, apparently US immigration was conducting some type of immigration check aboard the PRIDE for all crew members (this check is conducted every ninety days or so I was told), and boarding was delayed until 2:00pm. There were lines everywhere, nobody had a clue what was happening and the Carnival representatives kept making announcements “a few more minutes”. Bottom line, no excuses, it was total confusion in the hot sun. Carnival could have easily had a back-up plan for situations such as this (since it has happened in the past) and could have conducted an orderly boarding while keeping the passenger informed.

Cabins: Solid 4 stars

Nice. I always book the cheapest; I lucked out and managed to get upgraded to an outside with obstructed view, a great view of part of a lifeboat but I had a door vice a window which opened like a small balcony. The cabin was large with a nice lay out. The room had lots of storage space, a small couch, dresser and the bathroom had a nice soap and shampoo stocked dispenser as well as some nice complimentary toilet items. Some members of my group had a large outside cabin with a balcony and some had inside cabins, I did manage to view the inside cabin and they appeared to be about 180sq ft. and well laid out. On one occasion I experienced a small air conditioning problem, but it was immediately resolved. The only real complaint that many of us had was that noise and music playing in the Atrium (perhaps better soundproofing) could often be heard inside the cabins and the TV movie( a late night pastime) selection was plain awful.

Dining/Food: A solid 4 stars.

Overall food and service in the main dining room was nothing short of excellent. I ate all my evening meals in the main dining room table 101(I finally got a table my TA requested). Our waiter Gokhan was simple the best. He knew what to recommend and service was superb. The only unpleasant meal I experienced was the evening I did not follow my waiters’ recommendation. I ordered wine (there is no wine steward) every night, once again our waiter was responsive (be warned that wine is very pricey). For most cruises’, I try and avoid BUFFETS for breakfast or lunch; for this cruise I broke my rule more than once and ate at the breakfast and lunch buffets’ often. The variety of food at the buffets (Mermaid Grille) was wonderful, plentiful and very tasty; the lines were never excessively long and usually moved quickly. The breakfast and lunch menu in the dinning room is identical to what is usually being served at the Mermaid Grille vice for one special item. My only complaint for the dinning room is the nightly announcements by the maitre de that had the waiters dance and sing. Once or twice was entertaining, but doing it on every night became an annoyance vice entertainment. I did not eat at David’s supper club as I thought the price of $25 was a bit steep and it would have been very hard to top the main dining room, one member of my party did eat dinner at David’s supper cub and thought the meal was wonderful.

Public Rooms: 4 stars here.

Simply beautiful. The ship was decorated in a Renaissance era motif with touches of ancient Greece and Rome, There was plenty of space to move around and the ease with which you could move around will give you the general feeling of not being crowded. The ship was designed with making the 2nd and 3rd decks as the main hub of activity, i.e. shops, casino, lounges, photo, library – main traffic area. This centralized design is well thought out and everybody seemed to be having a good time. Passengers were seldom confused (I often find on cruises many that many passengers seem lost) and knew which direction to proceed. I was disappointed in the duty free shop on board as it was out of stock on numerous liquors I wished to purchase, but prices on other items were competitive and the personnel were nothing short of wonderful and seemed to be embarrassed that they were out of stock (but I got the standard excuse). Rest rooms were easily marked as was each deck sign. Elevators were plentiful and were always operational.

Entertainment: 2 1/2 stars with room for improvement
In the evening, you will find music at a variety of locations throughout the ship. There is a piano/singer who had about a dozen regulars in the piano bar, a good guitar player is found in the casino bar (he is hard to hear with all the noise + the smokers everywhere), in the Atrium bar there is also a guitar player, but with all the traffic he was also hard to hear and in the Butterfly lounge there is a band that would put the best of us to SLEEP! The disco is reserved for teens early in the night, then switches to 18+, playing techno/rap music starting at around 11:30PM. My biggest complaint was that there was no where to dance and listen to fast paced disco/rock and roll music for the 35-50yr old crowd. The guitar players were good, but in the location they were it there was no place to dance. The butterfly lounge band needs to be replaced by a faster paced group or switch locations with one of the guitar players. I always look forward to the theme night, but on this trip the single theme night was a flop as the cruise staff put it on in the rear of the ship on an open deck and were not involved. Karaoke was featured nightly and was very popular with the guests. A major disappointment was the lack of Nighttime shows. On this cruise there were only 3 nighttime shows (las Vegas type/ high energy) at the Taj Mahal lounge, I found this to be very unusual for my past cruises’, the three shows were excellent, one night Carnival featured the passenger talent show( I guess this is a way to save money) as the nightly entertainment and on one night it was a singer( terrible) that I walked out on along with numerous other passengers. Overall, the entertainment is a very weak area.

Excursions: No rating
The Pride stops at three wonderful ports; Puerto Vallarta, Mazaltan and Cabo Saint Lucas. My past experiences has taught me to rarely take the ship excursions as I find them too expensive and I do not like the cattle car herding that are given to cruise excursions. I can usually do my own excursions, visited the same places as the ship’s excursions, and save a lot of money. However, be warned that my method of excursions tend to be on the adventurous side and not are not for everyone. On this cruise I experienced three wonderful and unique excursions that I would recommend anyone who desires a bit of adventure.
In Puerto Vallarta

Activities: 3 stars here

The ship did not offer as much of the array of daytime activities I had previously experienced on Carnival, but the usual trivia and Bingo (I always play bingo; I was pleasantly surprised at the winning payout which was usually in excess of $150) were often played. However, due to the large an amount of participants at the popular activates(survivor, etc) a lottery was usually held to determine the participants, nobody seemed to mind and everybody was having a good time.

Disembarkation: 5 stars here

Considering the buffoon act with embarkation, I could only imagine as this has been a hassle on almost every cruise. All I can say is a GREAT ending to a cruise. Basically you leave depending on your connecting accommodations. You get a specific tag color based on your connections and deck, but you do not need to leave immediately. Carnival also encourages you to carry a bag off the ship. But what was most surprising was that the main dining room and Mermaid Grille were open until 9:00am for the normal breakfast (others cruises have served an abbreviated meal with a very short time frame). Once complete you check out of your cabin and due to the ship size there is more than enough room to sit and wait your turn. The disembarkation was one of the smoothest disembarkation ever.

Overall: 4 stars
Carnival Pride is a very nice ship with a terrific itinerary(Mexican Rivera). Carnival seems to be working hard trying to come up with new ideas, but seems to miss on the small items that make a huge difference in a cruise. Some of the negatives that I did not mention; there were far too many announcements on board and the announcements where consistently promoting/hawking Carnival products, during the final disembarkation briefing the cruise director kept promoting himself and the cruise staff in seeking to receive a high rating. I found this tasteless, the photo staff were very pushy and there were many instances of Carnival trying to push extra cost(Carnival vacation club, excursions, do not miss art auction, etc) on passengers. Even though I rated the service excellent, many of my fellow passengers informed me that they thought the general attitude by the service staff was rude and aloof. My only bad service experience was in the casino bar where the drinks were not correctly prepared and the bartenders were plain rude. Tipping at the end of the cruise is minimized as each passenger is assessed a charge to their rooms bills. I find this to be a major improvement and a change for the better. All this talk regarding lack of service since tips are automatically charged to your room daily is rubbish. I was so pleased with my dining room service that I tipped my wait staff extra... Besides the minor negatives I mentioned in my review, I think everybody needs to consider this ship; it was one of my best cruise experiences, and I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anybody. Since I have been on 11 cruises, I try and rate each cruise; this is very difficult so I would rank this a definite top 5 contender.

Happy sailing.

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